Hungarian Government statement

Members of the Danish media authority (Medie- og tilskudssekretariatet) – including its chairperson – are appointed by the Minister for Culture.

country experts

Erik Nordahl Svendsen served as the first director of the Mediasecretariat for the Radio and Television Board (RTB) when it was created in 2001. Prior to that, he served as head of the media research division for Denmark's public broadcaster, DR. He has researched and written extensively on regulation of PSB in Europe and is a frequent lecturer and an external examiner at Danish universities. His most recent publication, "From Sovereignty to Liberalisation: Media Policy in Small European Countries," appears in Small Among Giants: Television Broadcasting in Smaller Countries (eds. G.F. Lowe and C.S.Nissen, Nordicom 2011).


Expert assessment

This statement refers to the "Medie- og tilskudssekretariatet" (MTS) rather than the Radio and Television Board (RTB), Denmark's independent regulatory authority with powers over "all" electronic media. The "Medie- og tilskudssekretariatet" (MTS) was formed in 2001 at the same time as the RTB to serve as the RTB's secretariat. By law, the MTS was never an authority with powers of its own but rather acted on behalf of RTB, and in that sense, it was identical with RTB. In 2003, the MTS was changed to "Mediesekretariatet" (MS) with the same functions as the MTS had in relation to RTB. In 2008, the MS was merged with Agency for Libraries, which changed its name to "Agency for Library and Media" and since then has served as the secretariat of the RTB. Hence, the mention of MTS indicates that the Hungarian Government has relied on an outdated source for this citation.

The RTB was created in 2001 to supervise private and public broadcasting (TV and radio) under the revised Radio and Television Broadcasting Act (BAct).79 The RTB's current competencies include (in varying degrees) supervision over all electronic media—commercial and public television and radio broadcasting, audiovisual media services (television and on-demand)—but not print media or online media, unless these are audiovisual media services. The RTB is composed of eight members: seven, including the chairperson, are appointed by the Minister of Culture without any formal nominations, and one member, the "listener's representative," is appointed after nomination from a civic group, the Cooperative Forum of Danish Listeners and Viewers Association.80 They serve four-year terms, indefinitely renewable. The chairperson is approved by a government committee of ministers for higher appointments. Appointments are not staggered between election cycles and renewal is common; hence, in the Danish system, there have not been problems with discontinuity.

Article 39 of the BAct stipulates that members must represent expertise in legal, financial/administrative, business and media/cultural affairs, and that the chairman must be a lawyer. At present, four of the eight members of the RTB are university professors (two in law; two in media studies), one (the chairperson) is a lawyer, one is a journalist, one is a publisher, and one (the listener's representative) is a priest.

In many European countries, members of media authorities are either elected or nominated by different state organs, political parties or professional societies, as the Hungarian Government's choice of the Danish example shows. In certain circumstances, this can allow for government influence over the composition of media regulatory boards. However in Denmark, membership criterion of the RTB serves as a counterbalance to possible political influence. Since its start in 2001, the RTB has had three chairmen, all with legal education (and no prior involvement with the government): a professor of law, a judge (only acting chairman) and – at present – a lawyer. Hence, the members' professional competencies and independence in the Danish system has actually had a positive effect on press freedom, despite that these members are appointed directly by the government. In 2010, the Minister of Culture even proposed a bill stipulating the chairman of the RTB should be a judge. In the end, the law passed stipulates that the chairperson must be a lawyer, which in fact had always been the case.

78 "Reply to the criticisms expressed by the international media against the Media Act," Ministry Of Public Administration And Justice, January 3, 2011, available at:
79 The Radio and Television Broadcasting Act (2001) as amended by Act 1269 of 16 December 2009. The official English translation of the BAct is not up to date, but all the sections cited in this review reflect current regulations; available at:
80 Pursuant to Section 39(2) and Section 40(6) of the Law on Radio and Television Broadcasting Consolidation (Act No 477 of 6 May 2010), available at: